Julie Seifert

Working through the Stages

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It was a difficult week.  Last week I told you how I was struggling with not being able to transition into a horticulture career, and it was really bringing me down.  However, I worked through it and came out thriving.  Well, let’s just say I slid back into survival, and I was having a REALLY tough time.  I know I am in survival when I will be just driving down the road and tears well up in my eyes.  I get more sensitive than usual.  I can also be somewhat of a bitch to be around (to put it bluntly).  I was not happy, and I needed to find out why.

When I reflect on what I was going through, it struck me that it was kind of like the stages of grief:  1) Denial and isolation; 2) Anger; 3) Bargaining; 4) Depression; 5) Acceptance.  I was literally mourning the loss of my ability to make a career transition.  Here is how the stages played out for me:

Denial and isolation:  I did not want to get out of bed.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  Yet I kept telling myself that I CAN DO IT.  I was in denial I couldn’t make the change now, and I didn’t want to face anyone about it, most glaringly myself.

Anger:  Just ask my husband about this one.  I was not a fun person to be around.  I was f’in mad.  Why was I going to school?  For NOTHING?  I was STUCK.  It would NEVER HAPPEN.  And I took it out on him, which he didn’t deserve, but he was the closest target.  Sorry about that hubs.

Bargaining:  SO many scenarios were playing in my head.  If I could do x, then y, maybe I could get to z.  Over.  And over.  I played out so many scenarios but they all seemed to land in the same place – not going to happen now.  There are still remnants of this hanging on.

Depression:  This is a strong word for me, and one I don’t take lightly.  For me it was more sadness.  The realization that it wasn’t my time, no matter how hard I wished it was, made me sad.  I’m not afraid to admit it, and I’m not ashamed to say that I am spending some time here really feeling the experience and spending time in rah-rah self-talk to bring me out of it slowly.  Still working on this.

Acceptance:  Can’t say I’m here yet.  I still am working through stages 3 and 4, talking to others and getting their opinions about possible solutions, making my intentions known that after school I want to be involved SOMEHOW with plants, even if my career doesn’t transition that way yet.  Seeking help in the form of options from those in the know is helping me get to this stage.  And I have to thank all that have listened to my story, helped me through the frustration, and gave me great ideas.  I will get to this stage soon–I can feel it slowly coming on.

One thing that helped me greatly was a day spent at the Green Industry Conference with my fellow students and about 700 others in the horticulture industry.  It made me realize how lucky I am to be a part of it, and how grateful I am to learn from some truly amazing speakers.  There was a trade show too, so I got to speak with representatives from several different companies, and see many of the businesses that I keep hearing about in my studies.

AND THE PLANTS!  The trade show included many greenhouses, wholesale tree vendors, and nurseries, and they all brought some plants to show their wares.  I got to smell fresh flowers and witch hazel, and the color of green was everywhere.  It made me think of spring and that made me very happy.  And even better, I got to pick up a few plants at a very reasonable cost, and one tiny one for free!  It was an educational day, but also a great reminder of why I am going to school and why I love it so much.

So what does all this mean for you?

  1. If you are struggling, in addition to finding those 4 words for your cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual levels, check out the grief scale.  Are you working your way through a loss of some type? (See my blog to find out more about the 4 levels.)
  2. If you are suffering a loss, identify what stage you are in, then seek help.  Talk it out with a friend, text a family member, send an email.  Get it out in the open and out of your brain.  Sometimes that alone can make you feel better.
  3. Know more stages are coming if you are mourning a loss.  Be ready, and allow yourself some time in each, but try not to get stuck.  Rely on those from #2 above to help you work through the remaining stages.

By being ready and reaching out, you can move to Acceptance at your own pace, in a supported environment.  And if you aren’t experiencing a loss now, you have a head start on coping when the time presents itself.  We can do this!

I am not a trained professional, but I am always available to listen.  Please contact me if you need someone to talk to.  

“Walk on, walk on,
With hope in your heart,
And you’ll never walk alone.”
Rodgers and Hammerstein, Carousel

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